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IPL-7: Too foreign in own league

In IPL 7 that gears up to start on Wednesday, seven of the eight franchisees have foreign head coaches. Sanjay Bangar, at the helm of Kings XI Punjab, is the odd man out. Indian coaches are also rare in supporting roles.

cricket Updated: Apr 15, 2014 01:00 IST
MVL Manikantan

As the IPL 7 gears up to start on Wednesday, Indian players can once again look forward to get big breaks while the openings for their foreign counterparts will be restricted, with only four allowed in the eleven.

However, when it comes to the presence of Indian coaches in the league, it is the opposite.

Seven of the eight franchisees have foreign head coaches. Sanjay Bangar, at the helm of Kings XI Punjab, is the odd man out. Indian coaches are also rare in supporting roles.

Franchise managements don’t see any issue. "Indian coaches have a long way to go compared to their foreign counterparts. They are learning, but are still inexperienced. The impact of foreign coaches is more visible in the league right now and that is why they are sought after," said a Rajasthan Royals team official, who did not wish to be identified.


However, former India batsman Pravin Amre, who was in the coaching set up of the defunct Pune Warriors India, said: "It’s more to do with the franchise owners. They want to have a brand and want (in their opinion) to get the best in the world."

Out of bounds

It only reflects the situation in the national team, which has been managed by foreign coaches since late 2000. In this period, Ravi Shastri managed the team on a Bangladesh tour in 2007 while Lalchand Rajput, Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad played crucial roles in India’s 2007 World T20 victory.

"It must be playing on the franchise’s mind, a foreign coach in the India team. An attitude still exists where foreigners are thought to be superior, and this is has to go," said former India skipper and manager, Ajit Wadekar. "The foreign coaches have handled national teams and are very reputed. They have been very successful.

Indian coaches have had very little exposure to handle these situations. From year one, teams have gone for foreign coaches, seeking them from South Africa and Australia, the two countries playing T20 regularly," said TA Sekhar, Delhi Daredevils director who headed the Chennai-based MRF Pace Foundation for a long time.

"Bangar has a great opportunity to showcase his skill. If Kings XI team do well, he has a bright future as a coach," he added.

Scope to contribute

However, he feels the coach’s role is limited in the IPL. "At this level, he is focused on bonding the team, player communication and man management. The team composition is mixed, the foreign coach may not know about all Indian players. That is why there is an Indian coach assisting the players," said Sekhar.

"The field is saturated with foreign coaches and so many of them are accomplished ones, the Indian coaches have to compete with them. The coaching methodology and sharing of knowledge of the foreigners are different from the Indians," said Sekhar, who was previously a supporting coach with Mumbai Indians.

"We are 25 years behind in many aspects, one is physiotherapy and fitness. We have to depend only on foreigners. Only a couple of Indian trainers are as good."

Amre feels even if there are openings, Indians don’t stand a chance. "The foreign coaches will not prefer Indians. They will want their own set up. It’s a challenging job and franchises give them a free hand for getting results."

Few openings

Even the knowledge of local conditions and players doesn’t seem to help home-bred coaches. "We know the players very well and the ground conditions. Every game is critical, sometimes to qualify, and their inputs can be very important," Amre said.

"And the coaches only communicate with senior players. The players are more comfortable interacting with Indian coaches. There is also a language problem, sometimes players hesitate to interact with foreign coaches."

The bigger picture

The absence of Indian coaches is also a reflection of the system in the country, feels Sekhar, a former national selector.

"The professional Indian coaching system started only 14 years ago. The BCCI did not even have an academy before that. They have now realised the importance of coaching. (Ex-Aussie great) Rodney Marsh was got in to set up the National Cricket Academy and it became successful, but it turned into a rehab centre and lost its importance.


"The coaching of coaches is not organised well in India. You cannot conduct a weekend or five-day progamme and then hand over a certificate to kill. It is not being monitored whether a coach is capable of coaching. Many coaches easily get Level one and Level two certificates," added Sekhar.

The scenario in the IPL could gradually change with Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman taking on mentoring roles with Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

However, it boils down to the mindset of team owners, said Amre and Sekhar. India might dominate global cricket financially, but it surely lags behind as far as coaches are concerned.